“Dear The Golfing Doc, I have heard various comments on how much pressure I should use when I hold my golf club. What is the right amount of grip pressure? Thanks. John W., Tacoma, WA.”
Grip is a key element in all aspects of this game from putting to chipping to hitting any club in your bag. We often hear about grip in the context of style and strength. Do you have a weak grip or strong grip? Do you use an overlapping grip, interlocking grip, a 10-finger grip, or an unorthodox grip? Who knew holding a golf club could be so complicated. I haven’t even mentioned the various types of ways to grip a putter. Regardless of which grip style you use and prefer, grip pressure is something that needs to be noted.
You should be able to feel some compression of the ball at impact and also feel if you hit it square. The more you golf, the more this feeling becomes apparent. You can feel whether you have compressed a ball or even if the ball you are playing isn’t the right one for you. Now imagine if you are gripping that club to death, would you still be able to feel the compression of the ball? The harder you grip the club, the less feeling you will have through your hands.
When your clubface is at impact, it is crucial you grip that club so the head does not rotate. Even a fraction of a turn, whether it is closed or open, will affect that impact and flight of the ball. A more drastic shift in the position of the clubface might even result in not hitting the ball square with the face. It might lead to a shot off the heel or toe of the club. This then leads to inconsistent striking and unpredictable ball flights. Imagine if you held that club with light pressure and then hit a ball without tightening your grip at impact. That club will most likely spin or rotate at least a little while in your hands.
So that takes us to the main question: How hard should you grip a club? There is a preconceived idea that a club should be gripped with a small amount of pressure, such as a 5 out of 10 or even less. If we are talking about an iron, wedge, wood, or driver, there is no exact number on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most pressure. What I do suggest is that when addressing the ball, use a moderate amount of pressure. But when it comes time to hit the ball, especially at impact, hold onto that club with pressure at about 10 out of 10.
When it comes to grip pressure for a putter, it is almost reverse to that of a club. Because putting involves even more feel and you hit the ball with much less force, your grip can be much more relaxed and softer. The key here though is to still make sure you use enough pressure to hold onto the handle of the putter so it does not rotate once you contact that ball. If the face spins on impact, the same thing will happen as with a regular club. The ball will not come off the face of the putter square and solid.
The majority of muscles for grip strength begin in the forearm. Here are a few exercises you can do to keep your forearms healthy and to improve your grip strength. If you have any pain during any of these exercises, or have any underlying arm injuries, please stop these exercises and consult your physician before proceeding.
Dr.Sese is the Clinical Director at the Washington Golf Performance Institute in Bellevue, WA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org